Mr RNT’s character and strength of purpose can be judged from his own words:
“If you hold a gun to my head, you have two choices, you either move the gun away or pull the trigger, because I will not move my head.”
A look at his actions will prove that in a vast majority of cases, the gun was pulled away, because he has stood firm on his convictions.
Now Mr RNT lays down the reins of the Tata empire exactly on the date he had set for himself more than a decade ago, on his turning 75. Not for him the argument that he is “irreplaceable” (in many ways he is), and to make sure that he is not looked upon as the “Ghost Upstairs” in Bombay House, he is physically moving out. It is his way to ensure that Cyrus, his successor, does not have to live under his shadow.
I well remember RNT’s desire, conveyed to us two decades ago, that we should always carry two names in our pocket. One, of “a person who can take over if you are knocked down by a bus later in the day”, and the other of “a person who would be groomed to take over from you 3-5 years down the road”.
He is retiring at the peak of his achievements; but I am sure he is proud of the fact that his group has achieved a turnover of over $100 billion, Tata now has a footprint across the globe and has made several big-ticket global acquisitions.
But most of all it is a coherent, well-knit group of companies bound by the ideals of Tata House – integrity, trust and the desire to give back to the community.
He has made ‘Tata’ into a globally recognised brand. I recall a visit to Europe in the early 1990s where five senior Tata Group executives were present. Wherever we went, we presented five differently-designed calling cards. He was disturbed by the lack of uniformity in the group; a branding exercise was put into motion. Within a year, the new Tata logo was born. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we did not need an external agency, as most of the design work was done by RNT himself! All Tata companies have now proudly adopted that logo.
It was not always so.